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Friendly Fight Ahead!

Bhubaneswar: The fortnight long push and pull over the possible pre-poll alliance has ended in a negative note. Both the ruling BJD and the opposition BJP will fight elections solo, on their own as rival political parties. However, the two week long exercise has given a clear indication that both the parties have opened the option for a post poll alliance.

This is clearly evident from the statements of both BJP Odisha unit President Manmohan Samal and BJD General Secretary (Organization) Pranab Prakash Das. The BJD and BJP are likely to maintain the same relationship as they had before the elections.

Manmohan Samal while announcing that his party will fight in all the 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly seats alone, did not forget to thank BJD President and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the regional party extending support to the BJP led NDA Government at the Centre for 10 long years.

“For the past 10 years, BJD of Odisha under the leadership of Naveen Patnaik has been supporting the Narendra Modi government in the Centre in many matters of national importance. For this, we express our gratitude to him (Mr Patnaik),” the Odisha BJP Chief said. This statement is enough to say that the BJP keeps its option open for a post-poll alliance.

This is not all, Shri Samal also humbly justified as to why the BJP do not want to go for a pre-poll tie up with the BJD. “But today many welfare schemes of the Modi Government are not reaching the ground in Odisha, due to which the people of the state are not getting their benefits. We have concerns on many issues related to Odisha identity, Odisha pride, and interest of the people of Odisha,” Shri Samal said.

Similarly, BJD leader Pranab Prakash Das in a similar vein has also said: “BJD will continue to take decisions keeping people of Odisha in the forefront always and their welfare in true spirit of cooperative federalism and statesmanship required for nation building”. This is also sufficient that the BJD is in no aggressive mood against the BJP and will continue to work in tandem with the saffron party government at the Centre in true spirit of cooperative federalism.

Summing up the statements of both the party, it is amply clear that both the parties may fight the elections separately like earlier occasion, but they will have no animosity when it comes to the governance.

As indicated, the BJP central leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President JP Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, will no more use harsh words against the BJD president or the regional party during campaigning. However, the state level saffron leaders may launch attack on the regional party. But, none may utter words like “Jala Hua Transformer” after both Modi and Shah describing Naveen Patnaik as the “Lokapriya” (popular) Chief Minister who has been elected to the power five times in a row.

However, the 2024 election is likely to become most crucial and may create a ‘do or die’ situation. The BJP state leaders along with the Sangh Parivar have strongly opposed to the idea like pre-poll alliance with the BJD even as the party central leadership was seriously contemplating to go for this.  The BJP leaders have assured the central leaders that the saffron party would form the government in Odisha and win at least 16 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

This self set target may put the BJP state leadership in tight spot in view of its frail organization network across Odisha. The 2024 election is mostly likely to become an acid test for Manmohan Samal and the Saffron Team. The BJP have earlier failed to take advantage of Modi Magic in 2014 & 2019 elections.  The saffron party also tasted a bitter pill in the 2022 rural elections where the BJD secured 90 per cent of Zilla Parishad seats while the BJP in the second position could get only 5 per cent success.

Yes, there has been a sea change in Odisha politics within two years. The BJP appears to have increased its stake, but can they be translated into realty. If they better the performance in 2024, Odisha BJP’s stature before the people & Central Leadership will certainly improve. But if their performance remains lackluster, the state BJP will be finished for all time to come. Their 120 Plus Mission in 2014 and 2019 has failed.

Only success that the BJP has got is the election of 8 MPs in 2019 general elections. The party could get only 23 seats in the State Assembly. Meanwhile, the BJP has lost one seat to BJD in the by-election to Balasore assembly segment. The party has lost in 7 Assembly by-polls though it could retain Dhamnagar seat.  Any loss in the 2024 elections will certainly raise questions on the ability of the BJP’s state leadership.

For BJD also, challenges are many. The party has the records of winning elections, be it Assembly, Lok Sabha or Panchyat polls. The political equation in the ruling party has, however, undergone a lot of changes in the last two years. Some leaders are quitting the party making complaints that they are unable to meet their supreme leader, Naveen Patnaik. The distance between Naveen and the leaders may not be a good sign for the party.  The leaders and workers who work at the inspiration of Naveen are unable to speak to their leader.

This apart, in the backdrop of the alliance talk failure, a message has gone that the BJD may not repeat its 2019 performance. Now, the BJD leaders need to prove their abilities by crossing the previous performance of 113 assembly seats and 12 Lok Sabha seats. This apart, this time it is considered challenging that Naveen will become the country’s longest serving chief minister in 2024. The  2024 election is equally crucial for the BJD.

Pranab Prakash Das in X handle said that the BJD will win 75 per cent of the seats in 2024 elections. “BJD will contest in all 147 assembly constituencies and all 21 Lok Sabha constituencies with the support of people of Odisha and win more than three fourth seats under the leadership of Shri Naveen Patnaik,” Shri Das said.

Anyway, as the political sqabble continues, people can know who wins hearts of 4.5 crore people of Odisha on 4 June. However this time it will be an interesting election as the fate of an ambitious and all powerful young leader will depend on the outcome of the 2024 Polls.